State Senators Meet Over UPMC, Highmark Feud

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Eleven state senators, many of them from western Pennsylvania, held an insurance committee hearing in Pittsburgh to hear government regulators urge both UPMC and Highmark to clean up their act.

“We have urged them to stop the negative attacks that have resulted in nothing more than heightening fear and confusion for consumers,” PA Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine said.

Consedine told senators that he had met with both parties and was prepared to act to protect consumers by insisting both companies do the right thing for their patients.

Consedine told the legislators that although the formal contract expires next June, Medicare Advantage seniors will not be affected at all and Highmark customers will continue to be able to use UPMC facilities through June of 2013.

“Under Pennsylvania law we have the authority to say, ‘Not so fast. Let’s think about this.’ We refer to it as a cooling off period where basically, we bring the parties back to the table,” Consedine said.

Committee Chairman Sen. Don White noted that it was a bipartisan group of elected officials who want both sides to reach a resolution and he urged the public to get more involved.

“There are a lot of people out there this is going to personally affect and if they would take the time to write a letter to UPMC, Highmark, or both and to their public representatives stating their personal opinion and how it’s going to affect their life. I think it would have an impact,” Sen. White said.

This hearing was focused on government regulators and what they can do in this situation.

The next Senate Insurance hearing in Erie next week will feature UPMC and Highmark.

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